Message to the Rwandan people

As your country seeks ways of reconciliation and peace, I earnestly encourage all its sons to discover a new hope in Christ. It is in Him that the infinite mercy of God, who forgives all, in all circumstances, is fully manifested. In Him we are assured of divine benevolence forever. As the Apostle Paul tells us, “If, being enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, how much more, once reconciled, will we be saved by his life”. From this extraordinary gift that God gives us, Christians have a duty to be truthful witnesses, throughout their lives, to achieve reconciliation and peace. The new law that the Lord has left us is the law of brotherly love. It is this law that human nature fights when it refuses God, it is this same law that the world has so much trouble understanding. We must listen to the disciple Jesus loved when he said, “If anyone says,” I love God “and hates his brother, he is a liar: he who does not love his brother he sees, cannot love God whom he does not see”.

Fraternal love, which leads to the forgiveness of all offenses, does not render the justice of men without the objectivity which judges fault and condemns it. But the road to peace and reconciliation comes first and foremost through respect for the human person, without whom it is not possible to rebuild what has been destroyed. This respect for man is a presupposition for a truly fraternal dialogue. However, justice and equity for all who have rights to defend are just as necessary. And it must be recognized that, from this point of view, the State faces a great and difficult challenge: it is for him an essential duty to render justice to all. And I would like to say again that justice and truth must go hand in hand when it comes to exposing responsibilities in the tragedy of your country. The church as such can not be held responsible for the faults of its members who have acted against the evangelical law; they will be called to account for their actions. All members of the Church who have sinned during the genocide must have the courage to bear the consequences of the acts they committed against God and their neighbor. – from Letter to the President of the Episcopal Conference of Rwanda (1996)